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London’s most creative car park set to stay in heart of Peckham and remain open to the public

One of Peckham’s great buildings, the multi-storey car park in Rye Lane, is set to continue as a creative and cultural centre for the long term, as Southwark Council has worked with local groups to agree its future.

The council has been working closely with Bold Tendencies, the Peckhamplex Cinema and the team behind the soon-to-open Peckham Levels, to significantly extend their leases, which will ensure the former multi-storey car park remains a bustling, busy and sustainable part of the town centre and a London-wide cultural venue.

The site had been highlighted in the council’s New Southwark Plan, a blueprint for potential development in the borough, as an area to be re-developed for new mixed use development. However the most recent draft of the Plan, which is due to go to Cabinet for approval on Tuesday 31 October, has had the site removed.

Bold Tendencies said: “Southwark Council has worked a MIRACLE! We are lucky to have had the opportunity to develop our commissioning programme across visual art, architecture and classical music over the past ten years. This news only encourages us to do more work, to do it better and to reach more people in the borough and beyond!”

Lodewijk van den Belt, Site Director at Peckham Levels, said: “Turning this multi storey carpark into a creative and cultural hub for Peckham and Southwark is proof that collaboration and creativity can deliver tangible results and opportunities in the local community. Peckham Levels is looking forward to working with Southwark Council, Bold Tendencies and Peckhamplex to create a unique destination and community asset and the extension of the lease guarantees a long term cultural legacy that will deliver genuine opportunities to all the creative entrepreneurs of Peckham.”

John Reiss, chairman at Peckhamplex, said: “Peckhamplex is delighted that the long time uncertainty over redevelopment of the multi-storey former car park has been postponed for at least 20 years. This will allow the directors to consider investment in the multiplex to enhance the offering to our loyal customers. We intend to keep providing a broad range of films at affordable prices. I look forward to continuing to work with Southwark Council on enhancing the cinema building and surrounding area to make it truly inviting for visitors, and developing the cinema’s offer to continue to attract customers from across the borough and the rest of London.”

Cllr Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration and new homes at Southwark Council, said: “As an unused car park we thought this site had more potential through re-development. However following extensive consultation with local residents and recognising the fantastic work carried out by Bold Tendencies and Peckhamplex, and with the exciting new project at Peckham Levels, we have decided to secure the future of this site in its current form for the longer term. The council has been working closely with the three main cultural organisations using the car park to agree longer-term leases, paving the way for the building to remain a key part of the cultural activity that has put Peckham in the creative heart of the borough, and London.”

Over the past 10 years, Bold Tendencies – together with its partner projects The Multi-Story Orchestra and Frank’s Cafe – has attracted over 1.5 million visitors to its annual summer project at its rooftop home. Its activities take place both onsite and offsite.  Bold Tendencies animates its commissioning programme and the site for schools, families and the neighbourhood through standalone education and community programmes that take culture and civic values seriously. This summer 365 primary school age children participated in MY MUSEUM, an art and project space which trains young people to curate and take the lead in their own learning, and since 2014 120 young people have been part of the Bold Art Trainee Programme. Bold Tendencies will aim to continue to deliver excellence in its summertime commissioning programme, widen its attending audiences, in particular into Peckham and across Southwark, and remaster the site, working with some of the most significant emerging and established architects to design and commission new facilities and services on-site, bolting onto the existing fabric of the building and bringing into use of aspects of the site year round.

Peckham Levels is undergoing its final touches and is set to open the public on Friday 8 December 2017. It will comprise 50 studio spaces for artists, makers and small businesses, a number of co-working and workshop spaces, event venues and independent food, drink and retail business spaces. Ten of the studios will be let at subsidised rents to support emerging talent from the local area, and event and meeting spaces in the building will be available at low community rates at least 25% of the time, offering a new venue for community events, local meetings and charity fundraising.

All tenants will commit to give time weekly into a community investment scheme and 10% of net profits reinvested back into community projects.  Already largely let, following a hugely successful member and operator application process, over 500 people will work in the building on opening day.

In addition, confirmation of the extended lifespan of the building will allow the owners of the Peckhamplex cinema, which also forms part of the building, to look at options for improving its facilities whilst continuing to deliver low-cost cinema tickets for local residents. The cinema attracts around 10,000 customers a week largely from the local catchment area but more recently from across London attracted by a broad and current offering of films at affordable prices.

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